Anxiety: Friend and Foe

roadEveryone has had a fight with a good friend. It is a most unpleasant experience, because suddenly, someone close, trusted and well-meaning becomes a threat, a source of fret, confusing feelings and hurt.

Anxiety, in normal valence, is a good friend. It helps us stay aware of potential danger, dead ends and a variety of tripwires that everyday life sets up.

Parents, teach their babies to be wary of hotplates, of traffic in the street, of petting strange dogs or talking to strangers. Teaching anxiety to babies is part of the job of preparing them for the world beyond the safety of the nursery.

I have been a practicing psychologist for several decades. Treating anxiety and other types of affect dysregulation has become my specialty and in many ways, my cause. As a result, I’m acutely aware of all the things that can lead to extreme emotions.

There are many triggers in everyday life that bring on emotional overwhelm. An abandoned package at the airport, an emergency call from the school their child attends, a stolen credit card or a lovers’ spat all are examples of the stressors of life that may elicit a flood of runaway emotions.

When I read the news, I cannot help imagining how it might stress people who are prone to anxiety. Fear of terrorism, climate change, economic pressures, job insecurity, healthcare costs or just the tension of the rush hour commute can throw some people into a state that affects them physically and emotionally.

And any one who is in a relationship can be reactive as well. It’s easy to become emotionally reactive when someone feels controlled, betrayed, abandoned, misunderstood or criticized. The list goes on.

The good news is that there are ways, simple and accessible, to treat affect dysregulation, including extreme anxiety.

More good news: Since 2007, I have published several books on the subject of anxiety and ways to combat it right when and where it happens. My latest one is called The Road to Calm Workbook: Life-changing Tools to Stop Runaway Emotions. It will be released on April 25, 2016, and will be available on audio recordings as well as on an APP.

It is a veritable toolbox, which can be used at any time or place as the need arises. It helps readers STOP the mounting tide of unregulated emotions in its tracks. It helps them regain composure and gives them access to their faculties so they can function rationally in the face of whatever it was that triggered them.


The Road to “The Road to Calm Workbook”

51jggzGiBnLAs I write this, I am not calm — but in a good way. The word ‘excitement’ seems to be on the tip of my tongue and lighting up my self-awareness switchboard. My professional life is flashing before my eyes.

As a practicing psychologist, I often need to explain that life, not just therapy, is a process. That simple truth is very much in evidence for me at this moment. My latest book, The Road to Calm Workbook: Life-changing Tools to Stop Runaway Emotions, coming out on April 25, is the culmination of the work I actually began when I was a very young clinician.

When I first started my clinical practice, I began to see a number of clients appeared to have anxious reactions typical of panic disorder. Yet, at that time there was limited knowledge as to how best to treat these patients who were clearly suffering from seemingly inexplicable symptoms.

Many of my first clients told me they experienced their first panic attack at Sears, which was right down the road from my office. Why Sears, I asked them. One after another, my clients explained that the store exit was hard to find and when panic strikes, an obvious exit is a most urgent need. Having a sense of being trapped while experiencing panic can be quite overwhelming.

My desire to help these people was as almost intense as their symptoms. I was not aware at the time that treating anxiety would become the centerpiece of my career. Finding approaches to help these clients cope with and tame their symptoms, in effect, shaped my life’s work

In 2007, assembling the most effective of the methods of anxiety treatment I devised over years of clinical practice, I published my first book, The Affect Regulation Toolbox, which won an award for the best hypnosis book from the Society of Clinical Hypnosis.

The Road to Calm Workbook: Life-changing Tools to Stop Runaway Emotions, is actually a follow up to The Affect Regulation Toolbox. The first book was aimed at clinicians, while this new one targets a wider audience and offers tools for tackling a broader range of emotional challenges than I covered in the Toolbox.

In addition to addressing the management of anxiety issues, the workbook also deals with common struggles we all face at one time or another, such as loneliness, hopelessness, frustration, anger, feelings of abandonment and depression. It also discusses the various triggers that set off the onslaught of runaway emotions and provides explicit tools sets to manage what we, clinicians, call emotional overwhelm, or emotional flooding.

The reason I’m so excited about this book is because it provides effective, proven means, or tools, for diffusing emotional flooding to many more people than I could possibly help in one-on-one sessions in my office. It’s written in everyday language that’s easily accessible and it’s also available on audio recordings as well as on an APP. That means it’s a portable panic kit, or toolbox, that can be used at any time or place as the need arises.

The need, as anxiety sufferers know only too well, rises suddenly, like a flash flood. The workbook, I think, is like a life jacket…or a bright, reassuring exit sign, a surefire way out of the harrowing sense of drowning in negative emotions.

On April 25, 2016…I’m putting it out there for people in need.